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May 7 2014 11:55 AM

The Earth From Space ... LIVE!

live view from space
Thunderstorms pop up hundreds of kilometers below the International Space Station on May 7, 2014, as seen from the live HD camera.*

Photo by NASA

Feeling a little down? I have a way to make you feel more up ... way up.

How about some live video of our home planet, streamed in high definition from the International Space Station?

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Yes, what you're seeing is live, the view right now from space. The cameras are part of an experiment to determine the long-term effects of conditions in space on cameras, so that they can be better designed for the task. The cameras were brought up to orbit by the SpaceX Dragon capsule resupply mission in April 2014, and astronauts installed them shortly thereafter.

As you watch, you can see the Earth slowly roll by ... apparently. In reality the station orbits at 8 kilometers per second, or about 18,000 mph—fast enough to circle the Earth in about 90 minutes. Several cameras were installed, and the view switches between them (you may see a gray screen for a few seconds during the switch). If the screen is black, that's because the station is over the Earth's night side. Give it a few minutes (well, 45 max) and you'll see our gloriously wet and cloudy and arid and green and simply spectacular planet once again.

Set the video to full screen, sit back, and soak in the view. There's no audio track, so you're free to pick one yourself. My suggestion? Dvorak's Ninth Symphony. Our Earth may be 4.56 billion years old, but this view makes it seem like an entirely New World.

*Correction, May 7, 2014: The caption on this post's photo originally misstated when the image was from. It's from May 7, 2014, not the future.

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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